31 March 2009

bikefix Q+A: Fork Upgrade

Today, Diego writes with a question about upgrading the stock fork on his GT Marathon 3.0:

Last august I got my first sort of real bike. GT Marathon 3.0 2008. It was the most I could afford and wanted a FS. I think that I'm getting closer to the time that fork up-grade is needed. I don't have 3K to buy a high end bike. I already put Avid Juicy 7 on the back to replace the originals after a crash. I'm planning to keep this bike for a couple more years, then have it as a 2nd and get a high end. I ride the same way you describe yourself minus the years of experience. I'm not interested on racing or weight. I only want to have a good time, go longer (I like endurance, used to trail run). I read your review of RS Revelation and is affordable. Here in Charlotte, NC Fox rules but I care less about a logo. Asheville (WNC), the Appalachians are close by and I won't to hit them this summer. Sorry for the extensive email. I'm 5'6" and 140 at the most. Thank you so much for the blog, I'm reading all the stuff.


The Marathon are supposed to be great bikes- a little complicated but the closest thing out there to a Maverick, which both Charlie and I love. Good choice! I can't tell if the SR Suntour XCRs have any damping beyond the lockout, but its certainly an entry-level fork and an upgrade will likely increase control as well as possibly save some weight. A pre-2009 (90-130mm travel) adjustable travel Revelation would be a great choice and match the active rear end well. As a bonus, you may well be able to get a great deal as 2009 Revelations have had their travel bumped up to 140mm. I'd steer away from the fixed-travel versions- they'll be lighter and cheaper, but (especially on a bike designed around a 4in fork) you may not want all of that travel all of the time- it could make your bike a bit floppy and climbing a bit hard to manage.
If your local shop has a good deal on an air-sprung fixed-travel Revelation, you might be able to pay them an extra $20 or $30 to drop it from 130 to 110mm (which, if its like the Reba, is done by moving internal spacers- an easy job). There are 120mm and U-Turn (adjustable travel) versions of the Reba floating around, though they seem to be a bit hard to find and don't necessarily save much (or any) weight over the Revelation. A Fox F120 will be costlier and probably not work as well and both Manitou and Marzocchi have had a rough enough few years quality-wise that I might be reluctant to recommend a 120mm Minute or XC Retro 700 (though Charlie liked his- after our local ex-Manitou tech fixed it).

Heck, if you need something quick/cheap, you could probably find a decent-condition used Rock Shox Psylo SL or Race for around $100- they're coil-sprung and easy to work on if you'd like to learn a bit more about suspension without hosing an expensive bit of gear (plan on buying a seal/wiper kit if you decide to dive in). I always liked how those rode, though I have broken springs before (and I outweigh you by 5lb). Hope this helps and let us know what you end up doing! Have fun,


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1 comment:

The Bikeworks Crew said...

I'd be cautious about a used Psylo, or anything used from RockShox with Pure or Absolute damping, as that is getting a few generations old, and old enough that parts for more involved repairs most likely won't be available.
Stick with anything new enough to have Motion Control damping, so much easier to work on, and it gets you up to date with modern RockShox technology that you will have parts and service availability for a while.
Just my 2 cents.